A San Diego woman says she is heartbroken after learning that the man who offered to pay her more than $200 grocery tab passed away just 24 hours later.
Jamie-Lynne Knighten only met Matthew Jackson briefly. She was grocery shopping at a local Trader Joe’s when her credit card was declined due to an anti-fraud block, NBC 7 reported.
With her 5-month-old baby boy crying in her arms, and a mounting line behind her, Knighten struggled to get her credit card company on the phone.
“[My baby] just wasn’t having it,” Knighten told NBC 7. “By the time we got to the check-out, I was done.” That’s when Jackson stepped in and offered to pay for the woman’s groceries.
Knighten refused Jackson’s offer at first, but the 28-year-old was persistent. He asked her again, and Knighten said she could tell that he genuinely wanted to help her.
She accepted Jackson’s offer, which came under one condition. He made her promise that one day she would do the same for someone else. “It just felt like this huge hug, this great big bear hug,” Knighten told the LA Times.
The married mother-of-two couldn’t get Jackson and his random act of kindness out of her mind. She remembered that he mentioned working at a local LA Fitness Gym, so she called to let the manager know what a good guy Jackson was.
“That’s when [the manager] started crying,” Knighten told NBC 7. The manager, Angela Lavinder, informed Knighten that Jackson had been killed in a car accident. The crash occurred less than 24 hours after his good deed.
“She said it was Matt and my heart just dropped because he had just passed away,” Knighten said. “It broke my heart because – what a beautiful person.”
Jackson was with two others when the vehicle veered off the road and struck a tree, according to reports. The two other people survived.
“I still cannot believe it,” Knighten wrote in a Facebook post, according to the LA Times. “I thought for sure I would get the chance to see him again, give him a hug and thank him at least once more in person.
“Now I won’t get that chance, but more importantly no one else will get the chance to meet him. And that breaks my heart.”
Despite the tragic news of Jackson’s death, Knighten said she will honor his legacy by continuing to pay it forward and encouraging others to do the same.
“It is beautiful and heartbreaking at the same time,” she added to NBC 7. “We are trying to turn something sad into something really good.”
Knighten has since started a Facebook page and a Twitter page to honor Jackson’s legacy. They are both aptly named, “Matthews legacy.”